the_grinch2c_final_posterMovie Review: The Grinch, directed by Yarrow Cheney

(Four Stars)

A much better, more child-appropriate adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s book than the 2000 atrocity stolen by Jim Carrey.

Faithful to the book, but creative enough to freshen the story. It’s heart is the right size.

Grandchild tested.


Movie Review: Unbroken: Path to Redemption, directed by Harold Cronk (Five Stars)


Movie Review: Unbroken: Path to Redemption, directed by Harold Cronk

(Five Stars)

“The war’s over.”

The rest of the story. The 2014 film Unbroken relates the World War Two service and prisoner of war experiences of Louis Zamperini. This movie tells of his struggles after the war. Both are based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book: Unbroken: A World War Two Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.

“In the prison camps they tried to take your humanity, and you wouldn’t let them.”

Over 85% of World War Two prisoners of war in the Pacific theater suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which was not then recognized as a specific disorder until 1980.

“God often uses difficulties in our lives to prepare us for a greater future.”

The movie, like the true story, is unabashedly Christian, but it is not Continue reading

Movie Review: Christopher Robin, directed by Marc Forster (Four Stars)


Movie Review: Christopher Robin, directed by Marc Forster

(Four Stars)

“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been.”

Another retrospective on a childhood fantasy, in this case from the perspective of Winnie the Pooh’s friend, Christopher Robin, grown, married, a father, and well into a mid-life crisis.

“Your life is happening now, Right in front of you.”

Apt to be enjoyed by adults more than children. Unlike the Calvin and Hobbs approach, other people see and hear Christopher’s moving and talking. Piglet and Eeyore are perfect; Pooh and Tigger less so.

“Christopher Robin, what’s your favorite day?” “Today.”

Movie Review: The Incredibles 2 (Four Stars)


Movie Review: The Incredibles 2, written and directed by Brad Bird

(Four Stars)

“You know it’s crazy, right? To help my family, I gotta leave it to fix the law, I gotta break it.”

Great story, great cinematography, great music. Reprises the basic themes of the first movie with elaborations. Good family fun, though a few vocabulary gaffs–perhaps intentional to score a PG rating. Lots of fish-out-of-water Dad babysitting gags.

“Done properly, parenting is a heroic act… done properly.”

Warning: the movie features blinking black-and-white sequences which cause some people headaches and even loss of consciousness.

“I’ll watch the kids, no problem.”

Movie Review: Solo, directed by Ron Howard (Four Stars)


Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Movie, directed by Ron Howard

(Four Stars)

“I’ve got a good feeling about this.”

A worthy expansion of the Star Wars movie library. Not bad by itself. All the more amazing as director Ron Howard took the reins eleven months ago, and is reputed to have reshot significantly portions. As a story it works. Oh, yeah, it’s an action-oriented space opera, what do you expect? The Empire looms in the background, the Force is never alluded to (thought there is …), but there’s no doubt it is a Star Wars story.

“I heard a story about you. I was wondering if it’s true.” “Everything you’ve heard about me is true.”

Like Rogue One, Solo plows a new furrow. It connects to the main SW sequence in significant ways, but it’s its own story. Satisfying ending with plenty of hooks to potential follow on movies.

“Let me give you some advice. Assume everyone will betray you. And you will never be disappointed.”

Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine, directed by Andrew and John Erwin (Five Stars)


Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine, directed by Andrew and John Erwin

(Five Stars)

“Every feel like everything in your life is building to one big moment? This is it.”

Not just a really good Christian movie, a really good movie. Well written, well acted, well filmed and well produced. Based on the story behind MercyMe’s song by the same name.

“God can forgive you, I can’t.”

All about redemption, in many different forms.

“I saw God transform him from the man I hated to the man I wanted to become.”

Christian books and movies need to be good books and movies. They don’t get a bye because they are faith-based. This movie vindicates that opinion.

“The dad I wanted is about to leave me. How is that fair?”

Movie Review: Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler (Four Stars)


Movie Review: Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler

(Four Stars)

“In times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.”

All the action fun we expect from Marvel movies, with a side of introspection and angst. Set in fictional Wakanda (approximately co-locus with Rwanda in Africa’s Great Rift Valley), the story revolves around the internal and external struggles of an technologically advanced nation which poses as poster child for third-world subsistence. Visually stunning.

“You are a good man, with a good heart. And it’s hard for a good man to be a king.”

Lots of conflict, loyalties and heroism. The focal point of all the angst is T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), king of Wakanda, but even his opponents have good lines. Quibble: if you know how to “turn off” vibranium, do you tell a CIA agent?

“They knew death was better than bondage.”

Lot of female empowerment, though Marvel’s idea of female power tends to have a prurient side. Among the notable women characters, Shuri (Letita Wright) almost steals the show.

“Don’t freeze.”

Movie Review: 12 Strong, directed by Nicolai Fuglsig. (Four Stars)


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Movie Review: 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers, directed by Nicolai Fuglsig.

(Four Stars)

“Your mission will fail because you fear death.”

An old-fashioned war movie, based on the incredible true story of America’s first strike back after 9-11. The most engaging depiction is that of General Abdul Rashid Dostum, now vice president of Afghanistan. (All the quotes surrounding this review are by his character. There are as many quotable ones by the American characters, such as, “The only way home is winning.”)

“You have many men over you; I have over me, only God.”

Extremely violent. Much of the violence is bloodless, but much is very bloody. Ten percent shorter would have been ten percent better. The men who were there say Continue reading

Movie Review: Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright (Five Stars)


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Movie Review: Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright
Five Stars

“You can not reason with a Tiger when your head is in its mouth.” WC

Excellent costumes, setting and photography. Yes, it’s a lot of dialogue by old, white, rich English men, but it’s important stuff, even–no, especially today. An intimate view at May 1940, the month that may have changed history, from what was likely to what seemed impossible. Incredible performance by Gary Oldman (and the makeup artists).

“Will you stop interrupting me while I am interrupting you!” WC

A relatively painless history lesson. Sometimes real leaders aren’t popular, even within their own party, not that the director meant it to endorse Trump or his style. (And not to suggest that either Trump or Obama were Churchillian leaders.)

“He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” Viscount Halifax

(Director Krennic is king, good heavens!)


Movie Review: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson (Five Stars)


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Movie Review: The Last Jedi (Star Wars Episode VIII), directed by Rian Johnson

Five Stars

“I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.”

These days I go to Stars Wars movies with trepidation. You see, I saw the first (later called Episode IV) in 1977, the first week it opened. I’ve seen each one since. Some were stinkers. The Last Jedi was not. In fact, it’s one of the best of the lot.

“Everything you just said was wrong.”

There’s hardly anything I can say that won’t be a spoiler. Except there’s lots of reversals and unexpected. Leavened with a bit of humor.

“Something inside me has always been there, but now it’s awake and I need help.”

I went in with one big expectation, and they nailed it in the most satisfying way. Not for everyone, but lots of fun.

“I want every gun we have to fire on that man. Do it.”